Why Netflix is ​​canceling shows after just a month

Why Netflix is ​​canceling shows after just a month

The French series Funny was canceled by Netflix barely 4 weeks after it went online. The decision is no exception: the subscription video-on-demand platform has a theory for whether a production will work in the long term or not. Much to the chagrin of risk-taking and creativity.

Three years to be created, 28 days to be cancelled. It is the sad fate that has known Funny, the French series that Netflix has chosen not to renew for a new season, as the Inrocks learned on May 12. The series had been put online on March 18.

However, the teams had learned the news even earlier: It had been twenty-eight days that Funny was online when we were told that it would not continue. Which is extremely fast “, confided Fanny Herrero, the showrunner, to Télérama in the process. Netflix advances questions of audience: the series would not have ” did not find its audience “To the chagrin, even, of the French teams of the platform, according to the Inrocks.

Only one month to give a series a chance? The time frame may seem extremely short. Especially, in our case, when it comes to a long-awaited production, from one of the most prominent French showrunners, who jostled the codes of smooth productions to offer an energetic narration with detailed characters.

4 weeks to reach your audience, or go away

Funny is in fact far from being an exception. The chance of the calendar wanted that the day before, Vanity Fair published a long survey dedicated to the policy of creation and distribution of Netflix in terms of series, interviewing the showrunners (people who have a vision on almost all the stages of creation) who have developed projects for the platform. One of them, on condition of anonymity, confirms this mysterious four-week rule: “ Netflix has a philosophy: how a series does in the first month, during its first season, is the best indicator of how it will perform forever..”

This doesn’t seem to be true anywhere else. There are so many series that find their audience over time, thanks to word of mouth. Especially in the current environment where there is so much television: very few programs are a hit in one evening. “, Continues this regular.

What were the audiences of Funny ? How many viewers had stopped watching the series along the way? Netflix won’t tell. She just shared these figures with the teams of the series, kept silent. ” Even if we didn’t make 60 million ‘viewers’, it deserved to exist on the platform “, has regretted the actor Younès Boucif (Nezir in the series).

Younès Boucif in the Funny series on Netflix

The platform has used its own statistics since its inception and looks at the numbers it wants to make its choices. Publicly, she has long communicated only the number “ viewing intentions », or the number of people who have watched the first two minutes of an episode or a film. Today, the firm also gives a weekly ranking of the most watched content according to the volume of hours of viewing.

Binge-watching: one of the keys to understanding

Before the deployment of the other giants Disney+, Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV+, Netflix had time to impose a new mode of consumption: put an entire season online, the same day at the same time. The practice of binge-watching, hitherto reserved for those who had DVD boxes or who downloaded entire seasons, then spread and democratized. The term has become inseparable from online subscription streaming platforms.

Evolution of Google searches for the term “Binge Watching” since 2004 // Source: Google Trends
Evolution of Google searches for the term “Binge Watching” since 2004 // Source: Google Trends

But this emphasis on binging, which has created numerous debates in series enthusiast circles, but also among observers overwhelmed by this democratization of a practice that has hitherto been more marginal, has direct consequences on the way Netflix makes its choices. If you consider that in one or two weeks, a series that has just been released can be “binged” by tens of millions of people, then this is where the cursor is going to be put to decide the fate of the others. The operation is so different from linear television that comparing the differences between renewal decisions would make almost no sense.

Ted Sarandos, the co-CEO of the company, does not hide it: We are not currently happy with our subscriber growth (…) We have to produce one (…) Bridgerton Chronicle per month, and we must ensure that this is the level of demand that we have for our service “, he recalled in April, while Netflix suffered a historic loss of 200,000 paying subscribers in one quarter.

Season 2 of The Chronicle of the Bridgertons, a tasteless series produced by series queen Shonda Rimes, garnered 200 million hours of viewing a week after it went online last April. Also allowing the first season to again garner 50 million hours of viewing – which, paradoxically, shows that a new season can revive interest in a season 1, and bring a series to life over the long term. term.

The streaming giant has rarely bent its rule of broadcasting series by “block” of a season, unlike the competition: Disney+ has managed to stir up the sauce around its original production Wanda visionwhich might not have generated as much attention if the episodes hadn’t been uploaded weekly.

From there to say that Netflix would not give a chance to any original program would be an exaggeration: the multinational is constantly testing things, as evidenced by nuggets like Sense8, The OA, Tuca and Bertie or the mini-series unbelievable and Unorthodox. The observation is nevertheless implacable: few original series, more niche (or “more divisive”, from the consumerist point of view) than a Bridgertoncontinue their way beyond the second or third season.

Remember that Netflix is ​​a kind of large audiovisual supermarket. As in all supermarkets, there are the main aisles filled with the flagship products of well-known brands that customers buy mechanically, and there are the smaller stands that are less crowded, with fewer products, a little more expensive and tastier. These do not generate crowds, but increase the overall quality of the consumer experience. You still have to remember to fill the shelves.

Source: Numerama editing